Today was the 3rd day of the world famous annual International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan, where more than 500 participants from nearly 45 countries have come to take part in courses and classes given by more than 50 world renowned yoga experts.

Today, the morning began with power pranayama led by Yogiraj Vishwapal Jayant, Indea Foundation yoga led by Bharath Shetty, a special class on the twisting postures for health by Tommy Rosen and yoga therapy with Prahlad Bhardwaj.

Tommy Rosen explained that we hold onto our emotions and our pain in our tissues and if we don’t “twist” them out and release them, they lead to illness and injury. He explained: “Feelings left unprocessed are buried alive! They will act as an energetic blockage to the happiness and health of an individual. Later, if left unprocessed, these energetic blockages will cause a variety of emotional and physical symptoms, which will get more and more serious unless the person shifts onto a path of healing. The minute you start to look away from discomfort, pain and trauma is the minute you allow the seeds of addiction to be planted. We habitually avoid the present moment. That has become our addiction. In the final analysis, we are primarily addicted to looking away.”

Then the morning intense asana classes took place with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa of California, USA teaching Kundalini yoga, Deepika Mehta of Mumbai, famed yoga teacher to the celebrities, teaching the ashtanga fundamental series, Sri H.S. Arun of Bangalore teaching Iyengar Yoga with a focus on the twisting postures and Padmashri Bharat Bhushan teaching special sun meditation.

These intense classes were followed by a thought-provoking and intense satsang with Shri Mooji, originally of Jamaica and now a resident of Portugal. Mooji addressed the depths of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy by coaxing the audience to go deeply within themselves and question “Who is the one asking this question? Who is the one with the problem? Whose problem is it?” He explained to the listeners that “I am not so interested in the question as in the questioner…..Something very deep has brought you to this holy land of Rishikesh to this International Yoga Festival and it is that depth of experience that we want to make sure you receive, not only things you could read in books.”

After enjoying their lunch sitting on tables in the sunshine and dining tents, some highlights of the afternoon included Reiki with Maa Gyaan Suveera, a special program on the use and benefit of Indian spices with Smt. Anjana Bhagat, a meditation on demystifying enlightenment by Chandresh Bhardwaj, Shinto Yoga with Hikaru Hashimoto of Japan, Ganga Yoga with Laura Plumb of California, USA, Jivamukti Yoga with Gabriela Bozic, and the yogic dance of fire and bliss, including asana, pranayama and kriya with Kia Miller of USA.

In the Ganga Yoga, founded and taught by Laura Plumb under Pujya Swamiji’s inspiration and blessing, Laura said: “Go with the Flow. Let Go & Let Ganga. Surrender to divine will. Open your heart and recognize its natural generosity. Let yourself be a river of love. Be the compassion we all seek in the world. Give and Forgive. Pujya Swamiji always says, “Ganga gives and she forgives.” Ask yourself, by Ganga’s example, what are you ready to forgive? How can forgiveness open the rivers of compassion in your own life? Ganga teaches us generosity of heart. She purifies our past, refreshes our soul, and carries us to the ocean of the heart. Through Ganga, we learn to be a river of love for the world.”

In his talk on Demystifying Enlightenment, Chandresh Bhardwaj, the founder of “Break the Norms,” said: “Spirituality is knowing that all your attachments are merely an illusion. Enlightenment is releasing those attachments. Truth cannot be avoided. Love cannot be escaped. Beauty cannot be ignored. Divinity cannot be denied. Every time you move ahead in your spiritual journey, you will be bitten by a mosquito called Ego. It’s invisible and yet holds the power to suck out all that you have earned. The ego doesn’t travel alone. It also brings along all that is necessary to kill your divinity.”

In the evening, all participants took part in the sacred and divine world famous Ganga Aarti ceremony at Parmarth Niketan followed by a beautiful discourse on the “Yoga of Love” by Radhanath Swamiji and kirtan with Anandra George of USA, Vaiyasaki Das of USA and Kishori of Mexico.

Lukas Barbello, 21, Copenhagen, Denmark: “As a total beginner to mindfulness the International Yoga Festival is proving to be a perfect way to sample lots of yoga and meditation styles.”

Jennifer Gu, 50, Shanghai, China: “I’ve been studying yoga for 6 years and am so glad to find such a diverse set of teachers and styles, some much more than I could find at home.”

Deborah Johnson, 68, San Diego, USA: “The Yoga Festival has been a perfect reason to finally come home to India.”

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